Lady Heralds fight through second overtime challenge to beat Village Christian

Web_LHJ_WCHS_LaSerna_GBB_306by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

SUN VALLEY – For a brief time, it appeared as if the Whittier Christian girls’ basketball team would suffer the same heartbreaking fate that it endured in its overtime loss last Friday night.

The Lady Heralds were forced into overtime again on Tuesday night against Village Christian and struggled with turnovers, which allowed the Lady Crusaders to take a three-point lead with free throws.

But Hannah Yoshihara hit her biggest shot of the night, a 3-pointer with five seconds remaining to force a second overtime in which the Lady Heralds took momentum and the win, 57-52, Tuesday night at Village Christian School.

“We were holding our heads down a little bit until Yoshihara hit that 3-pointer,” said Grace Ricafranca, Whittier Christian head coach. “It gave us a revival of energy, it was really good. This does a lot for our confidence going forward and gives us momentum going into the second round of league.”

Sophomore Makenna Coleman scored six of her eight points in the second overtime and broke a 52-52 tie with a rebound and put-back. Coleman also grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds.

Yoshihara led the team with a season-high 20 points and sealed the win with three free throws down the stretch.

“From the beginning we wanted to control with the high-low post, but they weren’t giving it to us defensively,” said Grace Ricafranca, Whittier Christian head coach. “But we had Yoshihara, who was getting hot early from the outside, so we wanted to keep feeding her. Toward the end, we pulled it out on the high-low post.”

The bounce-back win was big for Whittier Christian (11-8, 2-2), which took a nine-point lead in the third quarter before the Lady Crusaders came back with free throws and a game-tying 3-pointer by Breanna Dominguez.

Village Christian (8-14, 1-3) forced the Lady Heralds to switch up their defensive game plan with 3-point shooting. The Lady Crusaders made eight long range shots, five of them coming in the first half.

“We just were having a hard time rotating to their shooters,” Ricafranca said in regards to the team’s second half struggles. “The whole night, we wanted to come out and switch on their shooters, but our bigs were scared to come out. Luckily we fought through it, but there was a lack of communication there.”

But Yoshihara was there to respond for the Lady Heralds with five 3-pointers of her own, four of which were made in the first half as Whittier Christian led 23-20 at halftime.

Forward Sydney Lopez added six points in the second half and recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but fouled out within the final minute of the fourth quarter.

The teams were tied 42-42 at the end of regulation.

Both teams struggled to score in the first overtime as the Lady Heralds tried to force passes and Village Christian went 0-for-5 from the floor.

Tied 45-45 going into the second overtime, the scoring picked up. Dominguez hit another 3-pointer and Avery O’Neal hit a jump shot.

But Tammy Adereti, who finished with six assists and forced multiple turnovers, completed a three-point play and Coleman added six points and three offensive rebounds to give the Lady Heralds the lead before Yoshihara’s free throws.

“The thing we love about Tammy is that she does the things that don’t show up on stat sheets, she’s one of our best defenders on the team and she made good plays for us today,” Ricafranca said.

Dominguez led the Lady Crusaders with 17 points and Hadiqa Nayani added 10 points. Kelsie Perdue led the team with 15 rebounds.

Whittier Christian will play Heritage Christian at home, Friday night. The Lady Heralds defeated Heritage Christian 51-48 on Jan. 16.

“We want to look to be more aggressive, we kind of fell asleep in the second quarter the first time through,” Ricafranca said. “That allowed them to get wide open shots. If we come out more aggressively, pressure them on the outside and force them to go inside, it will help our offensive flow when we come down with the ball.”

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.